Walden Bello: I’m principled ally of the President
MANILA, Philippines–What cheek!
This was Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s retort to Malacañang’s doubts on his loyalty to the administration after the party-list representative criticized anew President Aquino for allegedly “managing” the news on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre.
On Friday, presidential aide Abigail Valte was asked if Malacañang still considered Bello—who has been critical of the President’s policies and blind loyalty to his erring Cabinet secretaries on several occasions—an ally. Valte replied: “Perhaps the better question is: Does Representative Bello consider himself an ally of this administration?”
Bello was not amused by Valte’s impudent reply and fired off a string of messages underscoring his unwavering support for the President’s pet advocacy in the House of Representatives—from the reproductive health (RH) bill to the increase in the conditional cash transfer (CCT) budget to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)—compared to other administration allies.
“We’re picking up the pieces for the BBL, fending off bigots like (Senator Alan Peter) Cayetano, and here’s Malacañang questioning if I’m an ally. What cheek!” Bello said in a text message.
“I still consider myself an ally of the administration. Of course, I do. Unfortunately, Malacañang’s idea of an ally is one who simply toes the presidential line. My idea of a good ally is one who supports the administration but is not afraid to criticize it when it is going off the rails, as in the DAP (disbursement acceleration program) or Mamasapano,” Bello said.
“I pushed for the RH bill and CCT funding and good governance. And I have denounced all these efforts by (Vice President Jejomar) Binay and company to destabilize the administration. But you have to tell the President that he’s wrong when he’s wrong,” Bello said.
He said there was no bigger supporter of the BBL than him in Congress, “even when the President has himself nearly derailed it by sending this ill-advised, American-inspired mission into MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) territory without informing his negotiating partners.”
“You have to tell him to get rid of people like (resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan) Purisima, (Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad, and (Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio) De los Reyes when they’re dragging the administration down with their shenanigans. That’s what principled allies do. We are not fraternity buddies. That’s what Mr. Aquino needs to get in his head,” Bello said.
Aquino has expressed his displeasure over Bello’s unsolicited advice to fire his trusted Cabinet officials by urging him to run for the presidency in the 2016 elections so he could run the country the way he wanted to.
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